A/N: DW timelines are confusing...Rose met the Doctor in 2005. Then she went missing for a year. Then she kept traveling with him for a year or so after that, I think... so, this takes place towards the end of Nine's run. As to whether anyone will notice Sam Tyler looked an awful lot like Harold Saxon/The Master or vice versa, that may be something for another story.
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of the BBC. Title belongs to David Bowie.
With a slightly unsteady hand, Rose withdrew the phone from her ear and punched the button to end the call. For a few moments she stood staring down at the now blank screen, brow creased and a sombre expression on her usually bright features.
From across the console, the Doctor looked up at her, immediately noticing the change in her demeanour. Just a few minutes ago they'd been cheerfully debating the merits of a party in a 1920s dancehall versus one on the beaches of the tropical planet Triton Five, but the phonecall from Jackie had left her looking troubled. "What is it?"
His voice seemed to be enough to mostly snap her out of it. Rose sighed sadly and then looked back up at him. "Nothing," she answered distractedly, sliding the phone back into her pocket. "Mum's just had some bad news."
"I hope she didn't have company. I've been around your mother when she's had bad news; wouldn't recommend it."
Rose scowled slightly, looking more irritated than usual by his digs at Jackie. "Don't be like that. It's a cousin of Dad's. He's…dead."
"Oh." Realising how callous that made his remark seem, he quickly backtracked. "I'm sorry to hear that."
Rose bit her lip. "No, it's…fine, I guess. I didn't know him that well. Haven't talked to that side of the family in years, really; they all live up in Manchester, but Mum's still sort of in touch with them. It's just…it's kind of weird, what happened to him."
"Why? What happened?"
"Well, he was this police officer, and during the year I was missing he was involved in a hit and run like my dad was. Mum heard about it from some aunt up north, and she told me shortly after I got back. He was in a coma for months, but he woke up not too long ago and we thought things were getting better, except that he's just gone and jumped off a building. Why would someone do that?"
The Doctor didn't have an answer. For all the knowledge he'd gathered throughout his 900 years of travelling across time and space, there were some things about human behaviour that were too complicated for anyone to ever explain or understand. "You'd have to ask him. I'm sorry that you can't."
Her brow creased and she looked even more distressed and confused. "You know what's really making me wonder… When Sam first woke up, my mum said Aunt Jane had told her he'd been talking about being sent back in time to the seventies, and he thought he was living a life as a policeman in 1973 until he woke up and was back in the present. Before I met you I would've just thought that was a coma dream or something, but is that an actual thing that can happen? Can someone almost die and get sent back in time?"
He raised a thoughtful eyebrow. "You mean can someone be in a coma in 2006 and simultaneously be arresting criminals in 1973? Well, if they were physically present in both places there'd have to be temporal matter duplication, which would be highly unstable and could only happen with a large energy burst to trigger it. The brain does funny things on the point of dying, like making up whole new realities. That's probably all it was." He wasn't trying to be dismissive, but he wanted to give her a straightforward and honest answer.
Rose didn't look convinced, or like she wanted to believe it. "So you're saying it shouldn't be possible? The same way my mum making a phonecall in 2007 and me picking it up in 4043 shouldn't be possible?"
"That's different: that's explainable."
"Maybe…but just because there isn't an obvious explanation that doesn't mean it's impossible, right? I mean, what if that's why he did it?" She still looked rather upset and bewildered by the whole thing. "Sam really thought he'd travelled in time, and he wanted to go back again so badly that he was willing to risk dying again. What if it worked? It wouldn't be the weirdest thing we've seen is possible, would it?"
Perhaps it wouldn't, but he still doubted there was any reason that could explain it as real time travel. He almost wished he could tell her that there was if it would help her deal with things. "If you're that curious, we could always go find out?" he offered, his hands hovering over the console to change their destination.
Rose seemed to consider that for a moment, but then shook her head. "No, I'm not going to 1973 to find out if a second cousin I barely know actually time travelled from being hit by a car. It's too weird. And besides, it wouldn't change what he does in 2007. I know we can't stop that. Look… maybe we should just go to that party, yeah? I don't want to keep thinking about this right now." Despite not having known Sam Tyler well, Rose was finding it difficult to contemplate what happened to him. She knew just how thrilling and exciting time travel was, but the lengths Sam might have gone to to get back to 1973 scared her, whatever his reasons might have been.
"Alright," the Doctor said, wanting to take her mind off things. "Let's see if we can give you something to be happier about. Here's an idea: instead of the party, there's a David Bowie tribute concert on Mars in the 23rd century just after they established the first Martian colony. How does that sound?"
Despite her mind still being hung up on the news she'd just received, Rose's face broke into an incredulous smile. "Wait, so you're telling me that after humans succeed in colonising other planets, one of the first things they do is throw a rock concert with lots of glitter and face paint?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
Her grin widened. "Alright, I'm there."
He smiled back, pleased to see her returning to her usual cheery, energetic self. "Rose Tyler, I am about to prove to you that there is in fact life on Mars, and very lively it is too." His enthusiastic grin spread all the way between his rather large ears as he pulled a lever on the console and the TARDIS's engine commenced its familiar vworping to take them on their new course.